“No, I apologise Dr Smythe, I over reacted.”
“You didn’t and if you had, it would be very understandable. I’m going to listen to his chest, he sounds like he is having slight difficulty in breathing. We must sit Mr Ashdown in an upright position. Now, please don’t be too alarmed if he becomes delirious in time.”
“It is possible, I thought I should warn you. There now, he looks comfortable does he not?”
“Yes he does.”
“Here Mrs Ashdown, would you care to take a seat? You are all of a tremble.”
“This- this is all so terrifying.”
“Hot baths will help to relieve his chest when he is a little better. Stay with him tonight, I wont leave for another hour or so. That way, I might see how he fares. He must have those extra blankets and a few hot water bottles wouldn’t go a miss. Miss Douglas would you get them?”
“Yes of course.”
“He is so clammy.” Lucinda sighed. “Cold, yet clammy.”
“Yes, one of the symptoms.”
“Doctor Smythe, must our children be sent away while Edward is not well?”
” I would recommend it, but it is your decision.”
“Oh dear, arrangements will have to be made in that case.”
“I will get the hot water bottles!” Bessie exclaimed, scurrying downstairs and into the kitchen to fetch them.
“She is a keen helper.”
“Too much so.”
“Mrs Ashdown, I shall go now as I have another patient to see. I will return shortly.”
“Very well. Thank you Doctor Smythe.”
“You are a very capable woman Mrs Ashdown. I can be certain that Mr Ashdown will be in safe hands until I return.”
“Fear not darling, I will take care of you while you are not well.” She kissed him again, her tears dripping down the bridge of her nose, onto Edwards cheeks. His eyelids fluttered, as if the salty water droplets had revived him a little.
“Edward?” She whispered, lifting his arm, holding his hand against her cheek, cradling it in her own.
“There, there. I am so glad that you have not forgotten me in your feverish condition. You must rest, sleep now.”
Edward obeyed as Lucinda adjusted the collar of his nightshirt and smoothed his damp hair away from his scorching brow with a cool cloth.
“I do not like to admit it.” She muttered, “but I think the Governess may have saved your life. If she hadn’t found you, God only knows what might have happened. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
“Mmm.” He muttered.
“Ah, you did hear me!”
“Well, I won’t encourage you speak any more as I know it pains you. I’ll leave you to sleep now Edward.”
“Stay.” He croaked, gasping as he coughed loudly. Lucinda grabbed a glass, holding it to his lips.
“I-I will, please try to take some water.” Edward obeyed, taking a few, feeble sips.
“There, now go to sleep.” Lucinda watched him do so, her eyes growing heavier, she rested her head next to him, remaining seated in her chair as she clasped his hand in hers and closed her eyes.
Lucinda startled, sensing a firm, hand upon her shoulder. “Ma’am! Mrs Ashdown?”
She jumped on sensing Bessie towering over her. “Ma’am, oh thank goodness you’re awake.” Lucinda jumped.
“My! What is the matter? You are like a towering giant!”
Lucinda felt Edward’s cool forehead. “He, he is a little feverish still, but breathes more easily! Oh thank goodness. Doctor Smythe shall be returning soon.”
“Shall I sit with him Ma’am?”
“No, your responsibility is the children, never forget that. Now will you please return to them?”
“Lessons have not yet begun, it is but 6.45am.”
“Well, have you breakfasted?”
“I shall in time.”
“I do believe it is time now. You may go now Miss Douglas, I am perfectly capable at looking after my own husband.”
“Yes Ma’am. I will go now. Yes. shall I bring anything to you? A cup of tea perhaps?”
“That is kind Miss Douglas, but I am perfectly fine at the moment, thank you.”
“Yes ma’am. You know best.”
To be continued…